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According to a recent study, ropinirole, a drug commonly used for Parkinson’s disease, has shown promise in slowing down amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) progression for more than six months. ALS, a debilitating disease that affects muscle control, currently has no cure, and treatment mainly focuses on managing symptoms and providing supportive care.

Parkinson’s drug offers hope in ALS treatment

The study conducted by Japanese scientists revealed that ropinirole, typically used for restless legs syndrome and Parkinson’s, is safe for ALS patients and delays the progression of the disease for an average of 27.9 weeks. However, the research published in Cell Stem Cell indicates that individual responses to ropinirole treatment may vary.

According to Professor Hideyuki Okano from Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo, the study identified ropinirole as a potential drug for treating ALS. The study suggests that ropinirole is safe to use in ALS patients and may have some therapeutic effects. However, the disease remains incurable, and further studies are needed to confirm its effectiveness. The researchers plan to conduct a phase 3 trial in the near future.

Researchers conducted tests to evaluate the safety and efficacy of ropinirole in patients with sporadic ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. They enrolled 20 ALS patients from Keio University Hospital that had the condition for 20 months and did not carry any known genetic predisposition to the disease.

Ropinirole can lower ALS progression

The effectiveness of a drug in slowing the progression of ALS was evaluated through various measures during and four weeks after a trial. These measures included monitoring changes in the patient’s self-reported physical activity, their ability to independently eat and drink, and data collected from wearable devices. The study’s first author, Dr Satoru Morimoto, a neurologist at Keio University School of Medicine, concluded that ropinirole is well-tolerated and safe in ALS patients and could potentially help them maintain daily activity and muscle strength.

Ropinirole treatment may only be beneficial if given earlier and for a longer duration, as individuals that started using the drug midway didn’t experience meaningful improvement.